Newcastle taxis turning black and white in crackdown on unlicensed drivers

CREDIT: Newcastle City Council
The move is part of a crackdown on unlicensed drivers who pose as taxis and target vulnerable people, particularly after nights out. Credit: Newcastle City Council

Taxis in Newcastle could soon be rebranded in black and white to try and cut serious crimes.

The move is part of a crackdown on unlicensed drivers who pose as taxis and target vulnerable people, particularly after nights out.

Newcastle City Council plans to introduce white bonnets on hackney cabs, to make them instantly recognisable for members of the public. It is hoped it would help cut serious crimes, such as sexual violence.

Official hackney carriage drivers approved by the local authority will soon have to comply with rules.

Under a new policy set to be signed off next week by Newcastle City Council, hundreds of black cab drivers will have to fit a white wrap around their bonnet in order to ensure they have a "unique branding that is readily identifiable" for passengers.

The city's Street Pastors called the move a "big step towards creating a safer night out".

Paul Waugh, coordinator for the Newcastle Street Pastors, said: "The hackney carriages would be easy to identify and seen from a distance. The new livery will enable people to feel safe knowing they are in an approved vehicle."

A report to the council's cabinet states that 96% of drivers surveyed about the changes were against the proposal, with concerns about its cost, but public safety concerns mean that the authority is pressing ahead with the idea.

The council is proposing to give a £100 grant to each of the 597 licensed hackney carriage drivers in Newcastle to help with the cost of fitting the white vinyl wrapping.

Labour councillor Paula Maines, the council's cabinet member responsible for taxi licensing, said: "Everyone who uses a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle in Newcastle should feel safe doing so and that's exactly what these new measures set out to achieve.

"The new colour scheme for hackney carriages - chosen to reflect those of Newcastle United - and the signage requirements for private hire vehicles will make it easier for people to identify them.

"This will assure passengers that the vehicle and the driver have passed our stringent vetting processes and they will be collected and transported to their destination safely.

"It will also help protect people from unlicensed taxi drivers who illegally ply for trade, particularly at night when people are out enjoying themselves.

"This builds on the fantastic work we are doing with partners through the Safe Newcastle partnership to keep residents and visitors to our city safe."

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